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Issac, the son of Abraham, married ,

a woman by the name of Rebekah.

She gave birth to twin sons.

Their names were Esau and Jacob.

As they grew older, Esau became

his father's favorite while Jacob

became his mothers favorite. Esau

loved the outdoors and was

a skillful hunter, while Jacob was

a quiet boy who liked to stay home

and help his mother.

Esau and Jacob had trouble getting

along, because they were so different.

Esau came in from the fields one

day and saw his brother making

some soup. Esau was very hungry.

He asked Jacob for some soup.

Jacob told him he wouldn't give

him any soup unless Esau sold

his birthright to him. This birthright

belonged to the oldest son and meant

that when the father died he

inherited all his father's land. Esau

was so hungry right then that he didn't

care about his birthright. So he

agreed to give his birthright to Jacob

in exchange for the soup.

As the years went by their father,

Issac, became old and blind. He

knew he was nearing the time of

his death. He called to Esau to come

to him so he could receive his final

blessing. Before Issac would bless Esau he

wanted him to hunt a deer and

prepare him a meal.

Rebekah was listening to what Issac

was telling Esau. When Esau went into

the fields to hunt a deer, she prepared

some meat and told Jacob to serve it

to his father instead of Esau. In

that way Jacob would receive his

father's blessing. Jacob knew that

this was not right. But, nonetheless, he did

as his mother said. He took the meal

to his father. Issac, thinking that this

was his son Esau, gave Jacob

his final blessing.

When Esau returned with the meal,

he realized that he had been

deceived. He was deeply hurt that he had

been betrayed by Jacob in such a way.

Esau then hated Jacob and vowed that

he would one day kill him for

taking away first his birthright and then

his blessing. The things that Esau had said

were soon told to Rebekah. She

sent Jacob away to live with

her brother, Laban.

While Jacob was traveling to his

Uncle's house, he stopped to rest for

the night. That night he had a dream.

In this dream, there was a ladder set up

on earth. The top of the ladder reached

to heaven, and God's angels

were climbing up and down. At the

top of the ladder stood God. In this

dream He spoke to Jacob and said...

"I am the Lord, the God of Abraham

and Issac. The land on which you

lie I will give to you and your

descendants, and your descendants shall

spread like dust to the west and to

the east, to the north and to the south."

The next morning when Jacob awoke,

he took the stone that he had used to lie

his head on and set it up as a pillar.

He poured oil on it, to mark it as

a spot of blessed memories. He called

this place Bethel, which means

the house of God.

Jacob continued to travel to Laban's home.

He came to a field where he met

Laban's daughter Rachel. Rachel was

very beautiful. She greeted Jacob warmly

and brought him to see her father.

Jacob worked for Laban for a month.

During this time he grew to love

Rachel. When Laban asked Jacob what

his wages should be, Jacob asked for Rachel

in marriage. Laban agreed, but first Jacob had to

work for him for 7 years. At the end

of those 7 years he could marry.

When the 7 years were up, Laban

threw a marriage feast. But, instead

of Rachel, Laban substituted Leah,

his older daughter. Jacob didn't

know this at first because Leah

wore a veil and no one could see her face.

At the end of the ceremony Leah

was Jacob's wife. Laban had tricked

Jacob, just as Jacob had once

tricked his brother Esau.

Laban explained to Jacob that it was

custom that the older daughter

marry first. He promised Jacob that

if he would work for him for

another 7 years then he could

also have Rachel as his wife.

At the end of these 7 years, Rachel

also became Jacob's wife. Laban

treated Jacob badly and even refused

to pay him his wages as promised

on many occassions. Jacob could not

stand for this any longer. He gathered

his wives and children on camels and

set out for the land of Caanan. This

was the land where he was born.

Jacob sent messengers to Caanan

to tell his brother Esau that he was

on his way and that he was sorry he

had cheated him. When Jacob's messengers returned

to him, it was with bad news. Esau

was coming to meet Jacob and

was bringing 400 men to fight

Jacob and his people.

That night Jacob went off by himself

to think of the things he had done

in the past. While he was alone, a man

came and wrestled with him until

the break of day. Then Jacob learned

that the man he had wrestled with

was an angel of God. The angel said to Jacob.

"Because you have accepted the

challenge to fight and have not given up,

you have earned God's favor." Then

the angel changed Jacob's name

to Israel, a name meaning

"He who struggles with God"

or "The Reliable One."

Then the angel left. Jacob saw in

the distance Esau coming with his 400

men. Esau approached Jacob and bowed

himself to the ground 7 times. Instead

of fighting, Esau ran to Jacob and

embraced him and wept. He was so glad

to see his brother. Jacob was also

very happy to see his brother. He

had found favor in his brother's eyes.

They returned to Caanan with their

families. As God had told them,

Jacob's descendants spread over the

face of the earth.

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